Beyond the Packing List

Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

Genesis 43:11-14


I loved reading these verses in Genesis 43 this week, as I plan for a vacation. How appropriate!  These verses describe Jacob (Israel) telling his sons how to prepare for a dangerous trip to Egypt.

And why did these verses resonate with me so much? Because they are my trip-organizing philosophy in a Bible passage. This is what Jacob is basically advising:

  1. Think it through, plan, and prepare.
  2. Pray for God’s favor on your endeavor.
  3. Surrender the outcome into God’s hands.


In general, this is me, packing for a vacation:

  1. I try to think through each day and every eventuality, then I pack everything we’ll need (while trying not to over-pack… although my leaning is better to over-pack than under-pack).
  2. I pray for God to keep us safe and bless our trip. Additionally, we always have a family prayer while sitting in our car in our driveway before we leave.
  3. Then I fret about the weather, the crowds, and whether or not everyone is well fed (especially my hubby) and getting enough sleep (especially me). I lather sunscreen on everyone… or feel guilty that I forgot to lather sunscreen on everyone. I try to make everyone happy for the entire vacation, which never actually works.

So, in other words, I pretty much rock steps 1 and 2, then completely mess up step 3.

Anyone else with me?


As with any organizing, vacation preparation can go too far when it gives us more spiritual clutter than we started with. Once we’ve done our part, we need to let God do His part.

When we’re preparing for an event, large or small, it’s wonderful to be organized… to think it through, plan and prepare. In fact, I briefly considered writing up a packing list for you. You know, like “The Ultimate Camping Packing List” or “The Ultimate Disney Packing List.” The problem is that a great packing list is so specific to your trip and so personal to your family.

So, you’ll need to write your own packing list, like this:


1. Brainstorm (or brain dump!) everything you can think of and write it down in a big packing list. I like to make small lists under the name of each family member with what they’ll need, plus a heading that just says “Family” for the list of general things we’ll need.


2. Then, sit quietly and think through the actual trip.

  • Think through what your family needs and uses on a typical day. Consider the specific needs of each individual and of the family as a whole.
  • Then think through what you’ll be doing each day and what you might need if it goes well, or if it goes poorly.
  • Check the weather and plan accordingly for the best case, and the worst.
  • Take a quick walk through your house, looking for those things you might need but can take for granted (for example, over-the-counter medications).


3. Once you’ve have a great packing list, it’s time to ask for God’s blessing and favor on our enterprise—in fact, you can do this before, during, and after that list-writing. He wants to bless us!


4. Finally, intentionally surrender your trip to God. To help you remember your attitude of surrender, write a note on your calendar or in your planner for the day you’ll leave. For me, it would say something like this: “You have done your best to plan and prepare, and you’ve given it into God’s hands. Now, relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors! Soak in God’s blessings—have a great vacation!”


You can do this for any trip—a vacation, a day trip, even a trip to the zoo. It does help to keep your packing lists from previous trips, as long as you remember to think it through each time and adjust your lists to keep up with your maturing family.

I’ll be doing this quite shortly as we plan our summer vacation! I will pray for you… please pray for me!


If you’d like to learn more about project management and list-writing, check out my first book, Organizing You.

What would you write to yourself for the day the trip starts? I’d love to hear… comment here, or tell me on Facebook.

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